Travelogue : Ubud

It is Monday, and it is hard to believe that Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2015 was over than a week ago. This year's festival is the hottest yet because of rumor that the government would ban the festival due to some 'controversial' discussions it carried--which I think, personally, was unreasonable. Nothing could not stop the festival from going. I was in fact, in Malang, preparing my MC schedule when the news spread like wildfire. It was all over my social media timelines, that was a hot discussion of the day. At the end, I am glad that it was only a small bump on the road. Policemen and policewomen might have seen walking and wandering around the main venues, but everything seemed content.

It was OK.

Let me begin the real travelogue.

Hand Model : Chriswan Sungkono
Ubud, 2015

Ubud never disappoints. Period. I was thinking of not going to UWRF this year because I needed some savings and the theme did not really appeal to me at first. But then, I think about all the fun I will miss... so I am going anyway.

This year, the experience was different. Because, I did not travel in and out from the airport. If you read my travelogue in Malang, you know, I was travelling via land which means I took bus. This was the first time I travelled to Bali overland. I need to thank friends from Malang who had made the journey possible.

It was the first time after how many years that I took ferry boat again. Overall, the journey from Malang to Denpasar (Ubung Terminal) takes 10 -12 hours and you will spend 1 hour on ferry to cross the sea. My first journey, arriving to Bali, had involved a high tide. But the second journey, departing from Bali, was rather mild.

On Monday morning I arrived in Ubud. The festival begun on Wednesday and the orientation kicked in on Tuesday.  But the day of my arrival, I have scheduled to meet with one of the writers.

My regular stay in Ubud is Rumah Roda, that is run by Pak Darta and his family. It is located on Jalan Kajeng, which is close to the Ubud Market, Jalan Monkey Forest and Jalan Raya Ubud but relatively far from the festival Venue. But if you are up for the hike and the cardio, then it is fine. I am used to travelling 30 minutes from Rumah Roda to Jalan Raya Sanggingan by feet. It is a long, and enjoyable walk.

The People I Met

Top Left : with Australian Poetry Slam Champion 2014, Zohan Zee Khan
Middle Left : with The Boat's author, Nam Lee
Bottom Left : with Ibu Debra Yatim and Sydney's Jeannie
Top Right : with Jane Maryam, author of "Menikah"
Bottom Right : with Jenny Jusuf, screenwriter of Filosofi Kopi
I am lucky that I do not follow my first decision to leave UWRF 2015, because I would miss meeting inspiring people. This year, I have made a turn. Instead of getting bashed because of missing yet another writer's bag, I volunteered as... (drumrolls) MC!

Yup, amidst all the lack of self-confidence and limited public speaking skill, I have made my decision to become MC... I know I can do it. I love to talk to people. For years, I have been identifying myself as an introvert, but it turns out I am just a mild extrovert. I want to try something new and I want to see how much I can develop from this. I do not regret my decision at all. I got to pack my luggage with beautiful clothes, accessories and I have an excuse to wear my unusual shocking pink and red lipsticks. It is fun.

I am happy because I think I delivered the job well. Some audience and writers congratulated and thanked me for opening and closing the panel smoothly. And (blushing) notable panelists recognized me, such as Mr Andreas Harsono, a journalist and co-founder of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, and Bu Debra Yatim, Indonesia's prominent author. I do not need to be proud of myself, not yet, maybe I happened to interrupt their tea sessions before the panel started.

The Boat, a visual story launched by Australia's SBS , happened to be one of the panels I hosted. It tells a story about a migrant life from Vietnam and I met the people behind the creative process, including the charming and warm, Nam Lee.

I am happy that this year's festival represent African voice that is Chigozie Obioma, the author of The Fishermen. I am starting to read more African literature now. I have started reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I hosted a Special Event for Teju Cole, who is a writer and a photographer. In the session at Mozaic Restaurant, where canapes and martinis were elegantly served on travelling trays, Teju showed his photography muses and works. Teju resides in New York City, and it was nice having the taste of urban in Ubud.

I shared frequent moments and meet-ups with two female writers, Jane Maryam and Jenny Jusuf.
I was the moderator for both sessions, so it means that I was not only MCing, but I would run the session by stepping in front of the panels with questions.

Jane was about to launch her book, "Menikah", that tells story about 5 different women living 5 different lives. Jane is also a human rights activist for the LGBTQ people in Indonesia. She is one of the real writers with real personas that I have met during the festival. She was seen nervous because this is her first book launch, and I tried to comfort her. At the end, the book launch went well and she was passionate when replying to questions. She was sweet, and she gave me the copy of her book.

Jenny Jusuf was another trend sensation. After the launch of Filosofi Kopi the movie, her name soared. She was one of the writers for soap opera and assistant to Dewi Lestari. She was warm and not so reserved when we asked what she knows about the film and television industry in Indonesia.

And then, I met Zohab Zee Khan, the champion of Australia's national poetry slam 2014. He told us a story about his childhood, growing up as a kid of ethnicity in a town dominated by whites. He was teased because he is different. So one day, he screamed his name at the top of his lungs like his name is the best name ever. He used that as the warming-up exercise before we carried on with the poetry workshop on the last day of the festival. I cried during the workshop because of the prompt, "If poetry walks into your house, what it looks like." It was one of the best workshop I ever attended.

Oh... and I met Glenn Fredly as I hosted his film screening session. But it was cool though.

Lie! I could not keep my cool!

Friends and Volunteers

beautiful faces of the volunteers #UWRF15

The people of UWRF are the reason why I keep on volunteering. People with stories that crosses path with my life. I am in fact still on post-travel blues. This is Monday, and I have begun to receive texts of works and stuffs to do. I am like... no.... I am going to fill my blog because it is wajib.

Notes on our Basecamps... I wonder why this festival accepts so many orang aneh
this is why we are all connected to each other
Of course, this bond would not be completed without food and gelatos. On my first night in Ubud, we ate Sate Lilit in Jalan Raya Ubud and some other nights, we nibbled on Ote-Ote at Gorengan KingKong in front of Betelnut. I never skipped morning without going to the Pasar to find local eatery and kue for breakfast. I am feeling a little blue because nobody sells Bubur Bali in Jakarta. Devouring gelatos on hot sunny day is a must. My favorite places to go is Gelato Secret, which is not so secret at all... and Traffique which is next to Kori Ubud.

Sate Lilit, courtesy of Chriswan Sungkono (again, we call him unofficial Lurah of Ubud)

Mango/Coconut Gelato from Traffique

Bubur Bali at Pasar Ubud

And no Ubud experience is ever gonna be the same without these four....
I managed to go to Uluwatu after Ubud with an old friend, but I believe UWRF must be the highlight of the travel.

... UNMASKED glory in Ubud!

And I am also a proud friend and supporter when  Unmasked's Pangeran Siahaan was crowned runner up at Poetry Slam and our boy Doni Marmer was crowned champion! I believe he is the first Indonesian to be crowned champion. Way to go Doni! For that case, to close this blogpost, I present you... DONI MARMER!


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